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Economics - The Wabash-Kelley School Master of Science in Accounting Pipeline

Until about fifteen years ago, if you wanted to be a CPA, your best choice was to go to a large university with a business school and an undergraduate major in accounting, then sit for the CPA exam upon graduation.  That model changed when the accounting accreditation association decided that this educational model produced accountants who were too narrowly trained and increased the general education requirements by an additional 30 hours.  The result is that it now takes five years rather than four to prepare to take the CPA exam, even for undergraduate accounting majors.

IU Kelley School of BusinessThis policy change has made liberal arts schools such as Wabash competitive with large universities that offer dedicated undergraduate accounting programs.  Indiana University, among others, has responded to the change in educational requirements by creating a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree. The MSA degree at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business is an intensive, one-year, full-time graduate degree program for students with earned undergraduate degrees that will enable them to:

  • Develop advanced skills in a technical accounting curriculum
  • Participate in team-based consulting projects to get hands-on experience
  • Learn about assurance and risk management or taxation
  • Complete the 150-hour requirement to sit for the CPA exam in most states
  • Participate in IU recruiting events and pre-professional associations such as Beta Alpha Psi

IU's Kelley School of Business has contacts with a large array of prestigious firms who recruit MSA's on campus.  Graduates of the MSA Program have a nearly 100% placement rate in fields that include: 

  • Assurance and risk management (auditing)
  • Taxation
  • Corporate accounting
  • Governmental and nonprofit organizations
  • Forensic accounting
  • Management consulting

In 2013, Wabash signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kelley School of Business aimed at formalizing a pipeline program that will guide Wabash students through the prerequisites for admission to the MSA program and give privileged access to Wabash students so that they may enroll at IU immediately upon graduation and sit for the CPA exam the following summer.

What do I need to get in the pipeline?

1.  Prerequisites:

Course Name

Course Number

Financial Accounting 1

ACC 201 (Taken at Wabash)

Managerial Accounting 1

ACC 202 (Taken at Wabash)

Intermediate Accounting I ACC301 (Taken at Wabash)

Corporate Finance

ECO 361 (Taken at Wabash)

Financial Accounting 2

BUS-A311 (Taken at an IU campus or equivalent)

Economic Approach With Excel

ECO 251 (Taken at Wabash)

Managerial Accounting 2

BUS-A325 (Taken at an IU campus or equivalent)


BUS-A329 (Taken at an IU campus or equivalent)

Business Law

BUS-L201 (Taken at an IU campus or equivalent)


BUS-A424 (Taken at an IU campus or equivalent)

Additional Requirements

Two letters of recommendation from Wabash College faculty

An admissions interview with Kelley School faculty or staff

 IU has waived the requirement that Wabash students take the GMAT.  Thus, a GMAT score is not required for application.

Most if not all of the non-Wabash courses are offered every year during IU’s first summer session, a six-week intensive study period that begins immediately following the end of the academic year in May and concludes in early June.  In addition, Indiana University has given pre-approval for students to take Business Law through Brigham Young’s online program ( In 2013, the BYU course cost $489. 

2.  GPA

            Although there are no hard and fast rules, successful candidates for admission generally have GPA’s of 3.2 or higher.  Students with GPA’s of 3.5 or higher will be able to complete for a graduate assistantship, which offers a partial tuition remission and a small stipend.

3.  Timing

         Students should begin by taking Accounting 201 and 202 during the sophomore year.  Corporate Finance is best taken in the spring of the junior year (note that it has an Eco 291 prerequisite). The ideal time to begin outside preparation for the MSA Pipeline is the summer after sophomore or the summer after junior year.  Students should take the two additional intermediate accounting courses – either at IU or at another institution that offers similar courses – preferably in an early intensive session so that the rest of the summer would be available for internships to gain practical experience.  This is best done in the summer after the junior year at the latest.

The following summer (either summer after junior or senior year), the student should take Tax and Auditing (as these are the most advanced courses).  The other courses (Business Law and Business Computing) may be taken at any time.

Students can apply for conditional admission to the MSA program anytime after they have completed the intermediate financial accounting course.  Early admission is strongly encouraged, as students who will not ultimately be successful candidates for admission should be advised of this as early as possible.

Will I get access to Kelley’s career placement services?

Yes, once you’re enrolled in the program, you’re eligible for all services available to any business school student. In addition, students who are provisionally accepted in the spring of their junior year (see above) can participate informally in the job fair organized by the accounting honorary fraternity, Beta Alpha Psi, which brings more than sixty firms to campus every year.

When could I sit for the CPA exam? 

IU offers a six-week intensive “Fast-Pass” class exclusively to GAP students taught by Becker Professional Education immediately upon graduation in May to prepare you to sit for all four sections of the CPA exam that summer.   The national average pass rate for all four sections together is 50%.  Students who have participated in the Becker Fast-Pass class have a 97% pass rate.  Because most accounting firms offer substantial bonuses ($5,000 or more) for passing the CPA exam, the Becker Fast-Pass class usually pays for itself. In addition, firms often will pay for the CPA review classes such as the Becker Fast-Pass class.

Can I combine the MSA with another degree program, such as a law degree?

Yes, students who are admitted to both programs can generally complete the combined degree in four years.  However, students must be admitted to IU’s Law School and begin their graduate career there.

Where can I find more information about the pipeline program? 

Wabash contact:  Edward Hensley (361-6387, ;

IU contact:  Gretchen Handlos (812-855-7200)